Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Q79 A3: Whether there is an active intellect?

Yes. We must assign on the part of the intellect some power to make things actually intelligible, by abstraction of the species from material conditions, because nothing is reduced from potentiality to act except by something in act, as the senses are made actual by what is actually sensible.

Oportebat ponere aliquam virtutem ex parte intellectus, quae faceret intelligibilia in actu, per abstractionem specierum a conditionibus materialibus quia nihil autem reducitur de potentia in actum, nisi per aliquod ens actu, sicut sensus fit in actu per sensibile in actu.

Sensible things are found in act outside the soul; and hence there is no need for an active sense. Wherefore it is clear that in the nutritive part all the powers are active, whereas in the sensitive part all are passive: but in the intellectual part, there is something active and something passive.

Sensibilia inveniuntur actu extra animam, et ideo non oportuit ponere sensum agentem. Et sic patet quod in parte nutritiva omnes potentiae sunt activae; in parte autem sensitiva, omnes passivae; in parte vero intellectiva est aliquid activum, et aliquid passivum.

Light is required for sight, in order to make colors actually visible. And according to this the active intellect is required for understanding, in like manner and for the same reason as light is required for seeing.

Lumen requiritur ad visum, ut faciat colores actu visibiles. Et secundum hoc, similiter requiritur, et propter idem, intellectus agens ad intelligendum, propter quod lumen ad videndum.

The intelligible in act is not something existing in nature, if we consider the nature of things sensible, which do not subsist apart from matter. And therefore in order to understand them, the immaterial nature of the passive intellect would not suffice but for the presence of the active intellect which makes things actually intelligible by way of abstraction.

Intelligibile autem in actu non est aliquid existens in rerum natura, quantum ad naturam rerum sensibilium, quae non subsistunt praeter materiam. Et ideo ad intelligendum non sufficeret immaterialitas intellectus possibilis, nisi adesset intellectus agens, qui faceret intelligibilia in actu per modum abstractionis.

According to the opinion of Plato, there is no need for an active intellect in order to make things actually intelligible, but perhaps in order to provide intellectual light to the intellect. For Plato supposed that the forms of natural things subsisted apart from matter, and consequently that they are intelligible, since a thing is actually intelligible from the very fact that it is immaterial.

Secundum opinionem Platonis, nulla necessitas erat ponere intellectum agentem ad faciendum intelligibilia in actu, sed forte ad praebendum lumen intelligibile intelligenti ... Posuit enim Plato formas rerum naturalium sine materia subsistere, et per consequens eas intelligibiles esse, quia ex hoc est aliquid intelligibile actu, quod est immateriale.

And he called such forms "species" or "ideas", from a participation of which, he said that even corporeal matter was formed, in order that individuals might be naturally established in their proper genera and species; and that our intellect was formed by such participation in order to have knowledge of the genera and species of things.

Et huiusmodi vocabat "species", sive "ideas", ex quarum participatione dicebat etiam materiam corporalem formari, ad hoc quod individua naturaliter constituerentur in propriis generibus et speciebus; et intellectus nostros, ad hoc quod de generibus et speciebus rerum scientiam haberent.

But since Aristotle did not allow that forms of natural things exist apart from matter, and as forms existing in matter are not actually intelligible, it follows that the natures of forms of the sensible things which we understand are not actually intelligible.

Sed quia Aristoteles non posuit formas rerum naturalium subsistere sine materia, formae autem in materia existentes non sunt intelligibiles actu, sequebatur quod naturae seu formae rerum sensibilium, quas intelligimus, non essent intelligibiles actu.

The Philosopher says (De Anima iii, 5), "As in every nature, so in the soul is there something by which it becomes all things, and something by which it makes all things."

Philosophus dicit, in III de anima, quod "sicut in omni natura ita et in anima est aliquid quo est omnia fieri, et aliquid quo est omnia facere".